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Posts Tagged ‘Josh McCabe’

On today’s repost Saturday I’m going to update a post that’s 2 1/2 years old when editor Josh McCabe headed out for L.A. after working with me when we were both based in Iowa. He’s now based in Santa Monica and shortly after landing in L.A. was doing work with TBWA\Chiat\Day, but mostly has a regular editing gig these days with the creative team at Smashbox. This week Josh sent me some links to a freelance project he did for Red Bull that is airing this weekend at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.  Here’s the 30 second version:

Josh is still early in his career but has already had some great experiences working for some major brands and advertising companies. But he started out just like everyone else, a beginner sitting in his bedroom working on tutorials and personal projects until someone started paying for his skills. Two things about Josh that helped him beyond his editing talent that I can’t stress how important they are in your career:
1) Josh McCabe never looked down at any project he worked on. That included even doing non-creative things like making DVD labels and dubs.
2) Likeability. People want to work with people who aren’t only talented, but people they like working with. That’s why even many proven directors, actors, and writers don’t work. And the longer the project is, the more important likeability plays in you getting work. Michael Port’s book Book Yourself Solid Illustrated touches on the importance of this trait.

Here’s the post originally posted on January 31, 2011:

“(Vilmos Zsigmond) made his way to Hollywood, where he found work as a technician in a film lab and also as a home portrait photographer.”
Ray Morton writing about the days long before Zsigmond won an Oscar for Best Cinematography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film

Here’s a case study of how to get a start working in production. (And what I wish somebody would have told me back when I was in film school.)

My first interaction with Josh McCabe was about 2 years ago—at about 3 in the morning. River Run Productions was looking for some production assistance and we asked the local college to recommend to us their best student. They recommended Josh. So I sent him an email early one morning and figured we’d touch base later that day.  He emailed me back right away.

I asked him what he was doing up so late. I think he said he was working on some editing tutorials at Lynda.com. That was a good sign to me.

We met and he left his job at a credit union and began working on a regular freelance basis with us.  There is an old concept that employers use that says hire for attitude, and then train the person. Josh came with not only a great attitude, and a willingness to learn, but he was well versed in editing on Final Cut Pro.  He was still in school as an electronic arts major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where he worked on various student productions and also did some weddings videos on his own.

Josh jumped in right away wherever we needed him. As you’ll see from some of the pictures here, sometimes he edited projects, sometimes he logged footage, sometimes he helped carry a heavy Jimmy Jib up three flights of stairs, sometimes he was a PA, sometimes a grip, sometimes a cameraman, sometimes he was a technical advisor, photographer, sound designer, sometimes he pushed a dolly, and sometimes he worked 16 hour days—he did whatever we threw at him.

Josh got to work on everything from industrial & corporate projects, commercials, web videos, promotional videos, music videos, and even co-directed a couple short films with me for the 48 Hour film project. (His resume now includes working experience on not only FCP, but Motion/After Effects, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Aperture/Lightroom, Soundtrack Pro on top of green screen work, P2 workflow, etc.)

In 2009 Josh spent the summer in LA interning at Entertainment Tonight, a gig he got through ET host Mark Steines, an Iowa native who graduated from UNI.

Josh came back to Cedar Falls to finish his BA and work at River Run and graduated last May.  When an Emmy-winning editor (Dexter opening credits) and UNI grad came to speak at the school Josh not only went to hear him speak but was part of a small group of students who got together with him for drinks afterwards.

When that editor (who works for a broadcast post house in LA) had a friend at an other post house in LA call looking for an up and comer as an assistant editor —Josh’s name came up. In a sea of capable LA talent this kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa got the gig.

To make a long story a little shorter, Josh worked his last day for us Wednesday, headed west on I-80 Friday, made a quick stop in Park City, Utah Saturday night to soak in the tail end of the Sundance Film Festival and arrived in LA Sunday night, and begins his new gig today in Santa Monica.

I’m thrilled for him. So the lesson to learn here is simply have a great attitude, learn everything you can about the tools of the trade (lynda.com is a must)—party less, and do tutorials more, network like crazy, and do the little jobs (PA, logging footage, whatever) in the little places (Cedar Falls, Iowa) and that will pave the way for bigger opportunities.

Here’s the last big project we did together that just went online this week. It was produced for an economic development group and allowed me the opportunity to do a lot of things I talk about on the blog (produce, direct, write, shoot & edit) with the bulk of the work being done by two people as Josh also shot some of the beauty footage and was also co-editor on the 3 1/2 minute video.

Josh, thanks for all your work here at River Run, and I wish you the best in LA. And for all of you starting out in your career, the lesson to learn from Josh is to be not only both technical and creative, but (I know I’m repeated myself, but sometimes you have to shout) work hard /party less, network, network, network, be addicted to learning from Lynda.com, and have a great attitude. (Tattoos are optional.)

P.S. Another young creative that I’ve been able to watch grow over the years (and also use on a freelance basis) is creative director/filmmaker Edd Blott of Chicago. He currently has a short film called A Tale of Delight that is part of the Open Film contest in hopes of being turned into a feature. Today is the last day you can vote for his film—check it out at OpenFilm.com.

Update 7/20/13: Last year Edd Blott wrote and directed his first feature film, A Tale of Delight for which he won Best Director at the 2012 Oregon Film Awards. He just had a table read in Portland of his latest script. See the post Congrats Edd Blott on Best Director Award.

Related posts:
Why You Should Move to L.A.

Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

What’s it Like to Be a Struggling Writer in L.A.

Scott W. Smith

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It’s mash-up Monday here at Screenwriting from Iowa…and Other Unlikely Places.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the past four weeks have been the highest weeks of views I’ve ever had on this blog. And most of the posts in the past four weeks have been insights from producer/writer/director Garry Marshall. So I’ll continue that trend for a few more days so we can have —A Month of Marshall. Something I’ve never done for any single person since starting this blog almost five years ago. (Though part of the spike in views is also due to the popularity of the post Screenwriting the Pixar Way-Part 2.)

Today we’ll look at Gary Marshall the actor and make some odd connections. Hence, the mash-up.

On Friday, my former intern Josh McCabe & I spoke at the Fast Forward Conference at the University of Northern Iowa. Our talk was called “Going from Student to Working Professional” and they actually didn’t have room in their large studio for all the students who wanted to attend. Back on January 31, 2011 I wrote a post called How to Get Started Working in Production, and talked about Josh’s working for me before moving to LA.

Since then he’s worked for a variety of clients and brands including TBWA/Chiat/Day, Smashbox, Discovery, Gatorade, Lexus, and Estee Lauder. He’s keeping busy mostly editing these days. In the odd connection category he told me that he actually was in a film with Garry Marshall. The short film was produced and directed by Melissa Joan Hart. You can watch the film Mute on this link.

So forget that six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. I’m only one degree from Garry Marshall. And I even have much older friendship with writer/actress Clare Sera who had roles in both The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2 which Garry Marshall directed.

Back in the 80s Garry also had an office on Riverside Drive in Burbank. Back in the 80s I lived on Riverside Drive in Burbank. If I recall correctly my apartment was at 1200 Riverside Dr. at a place called the Equestrian Inn. It’s a swankier place now, but back when I was in college it was very un-L.A. in that there were horse stables next to the apartment’s parking lot and I frequently woke up to the distinct sound of the mating call of a peacock. (And the peacock had nothing to do with the nearby NBC studios where Johnny Carson taped The Tonight Show.)

I met the woman who would become my wife at those apartments. We still laugh about that peacock noise. And I can do a pretty good imitation on request.  No, it’s not what attracted her to me. But that peacock sound  is an objective correlative in our relationship. We met in an elevator in Burbank—can you get any more romantic than that?

We’ll get back to more Garry Marshall’s insights tomorrow, but allow me to reminisce a bit. Over the weekend I went to see Argo and loved the film, which also takes places in the 80s and takes places partly in Burbank—in fact, just off Riverside Dr. at The Burbank Studios. (But as far as I know, neither Garry Marshall—nor Johnny Carson— had anything to do with Argo.) We’ll talk more about Ben Affleck’s five-year journey to bring Chris Terrio’s script to movie theaters next week.

Next week we’ll also talk about filming in Turkey. The last two films I’ve seen (Argo & Taken 2) both were partly filmed in Istanbul, Turkey. My wife—the one I met in the elevator in Burbank—was actually in Istanbul, Turkey last week and brought me some literature from the area about how they are actively seeking to make more movies in Turkey. Next month is the release of the new James Bond film Skyfall which was shot in Istanbul.

I’d say Istanbul has recently done a super job of attracting some major films. It doesn’t take much from a place to go from an unlikely place to make a film, to a highly popular place to make a film. (And a shout-out to Orkide Unsur, a filmmaker in Istanbul who reads this blog.)

No news if Garry Marshall has any plans to shoot a film in Istanbul. And as far as I know he’s never acted in a James Bond film.  But how about this for a wrap-up…the first James Bond film was Dr. No released in 1962, Garry Marshall’s first IMDB credit as an actor was in The Phoney America—released in 1961. I think that’s why these posts about Garry are so popular. He’s a producer, director, writer, actor who has had not only his share of hit films (Pretty Woman)  and TV shows (Happy Days)—but he’s able to drawn on insights from doing this for six decades.

Update 10/23: Marshall plays an uncredited hoodlum in Goldfinger. So there is a connection Marshall and Bond afterall.

P.S. How successful was Garry Marshall’s TV career at its peak? Well back in 1979—when the Iranian hostage crisis (depicted in Argo) started—according to The Museum of Broadcast Communications, “four of the five highest-rated shows of the year were Marshall’s.”

P.P.S. That speaking gig Friday was a blast, and while not something I’ve actively pursued, I enjoy those opportunities. If any colleges or groups would like to bring me in to speak—with or without Josh—shoot me an email at info@scottwsmith.com.

Scott W. Smith

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“Shocking is easy. Shockingly brilliant, a bit more challenging.”
@leeclowsbeard

Back in January of 2011, I wrote a post called How to Get Started Working in Production about how Josh McCabe started working for me while in college and was heading out to Los Angeles to work as an assistant editor. Josh returned to Iowa last week to visit his family and stopped by the office to say hello, help me get up on the Apple cloud, and give me an early birthday present—a book called leeclowsbeard.

The book is even signed by Lee Clow.

Yes, the Lee Clow, Global Director Media Arts at  TBWA/Worldwide. Perhaps Lee’s most well known as the co-creator of Apple’s Super Bowl commercial, 1984. He’s been a force in global advertising for the past four decades. Back in ’09 I wrote a post called “Here’s to the troublemakers…”  featuring Lee’s & his team’s work on Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. (Still a classic.)

And Lee wasn’t just being humble when he wrote “I didn’t write this!”—the just released book had its beginnings as a Twitter feed in 2009 written by Dallas-based freelance copywriter Jason Fox. Check out the Fast article by Rae Ann Fera to see how the tweets became a book via the TBWA’s Let There Be Dragons branch. (Just checked Jason’s resume, and yes, he is a screenwriter as well.)

Just a year and a half ago Josh was a recent college grad helping me on productions and for the past few months he’s been doing regular freelance work (editing, shooting, etc.) at TBWA/Chiat/Day—a top 10 global agency.

Funny thing is I have a book at my River Run office called Chiat/Day: The First Twenty Years that Josh doesn’t remember seeing in his two years of working on projects with me. Below is a photo from that book that is a fond memory of mine. One day in the early 80s while I was in film school and driving on Barham Blvd. going from Burbank to Hollywood I saw a this Nike billboard by the backside of Universal Studios and it’s forever cemented in my mind. It’s of Los Angeles Raider great Lester Hayes. It was subtle and bold in the same time.

Josh flew back to L.A. Sunday and if you want to get a glimpse of where he’ll be working this week. Check out this video of the inside of the TBWA/Chiat/Day 120.000 suare foot mothership (or “Advertising City” as it’s been also called) in Playa del Ray. (If you’re looking for an advertising job or internship around the world check out the TBWA/Chiat/Day website.)

P.S. That NKLA shirt Lee is wearing in the photo with Josh is part of an initiative to make Los Angeles a no-kill city as it raises awareness and support for animal rescue organizations in LA.

Scott W. Smith

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“(Vilmos Zsigmond) made his way to Hollywood, where he found work as a technician in a film lab and also as a home portrait photographer.”
Ray Morton writing about the days long before Zsigmond won an Oscar for Best Cinematography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film

Here’s a case study of how to get a start working in production. (And what I wish somebody would have told me back when I was in film school.)

My first interaction with Josh McCabe was about 2 years ago—at about 3 in the morning. River Run Productions was looking for some production assistance and we asked the local college to recommend to us their best student. They recommended Josh. So I sent him an email early one morning and figured we’d touch base later that day.  He emailed me back right away.

I asked him what he was doing up so late. I think he said he was working on some editing tutorials at Lynda.com. That was a good sign to me.

We met and he left his job at a credit union and began working on a regular freelance basis with us.  There is an old concept that employers use that says hire for attitude, and then train the person. Josh came with not only a great attitude, and a willingness to learn, but he was well versed in editing on Final Cut Pro.  He was still in school as an electronic arts major at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) where he worked on various student productions and also did some weddings videos on his own.

Josh jumped in right away wherever we needed him. As you’ll see from some of the pictures here, sometimes he edited projects, sometimes he logged footage, sometimes he helped carry a heavy Jimmy Jib up three flights of stairs, sometimes he was a PA, sometimes a grip, sometimes a cameraman, sometimes he was a technical advisor, photographer, sound designer, sometimes he pushed a dolly, and sometimes he worked 16 hour days—he did whatever we threw at him.

Josh got to work on everything from industrial & corporate projects, commercials, web videos, promotional videos, music videos, and even co-directed a couple short films with me for the 48 Hour film project. (His resume now includes working experience on not only FCP, but Motion/After Effects, Photoshop, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Aperture/Lightroom, Soundtrack Pro on top of green screen work, P2 workflow, etc.)

In 2009 Josh spent the summer in LA interning at Entertainment Tonight, a gig he got through ET host Mark Steines, an Iowa native who graduated from UNI.

Josh came back to Cedar Falls to finish his BA and work at River Run and graduated last May.  When an Emmy-winning editor (Dexter opening credits) and UNI grad came to speak at the school Josh not only went to hear him speak but was part of a small group of students who got together with him for drinks afterwards.

When that editor (who works for a broadcast post house in LA) had a friend at an other post house in LA call looking for an up and comer as an assistant editor —Josh’s name came up. In a sea of capable LA talent this kid in Cedar Falls, Iowa got the gig.

To make a long story a little shorter, Josh worked his last day for us Wednesday, headed west on I-80 Friday, made a quick stop in Park City, Utah Saturday night to soak in the tail end of the Sundance Film Festival and arrived in LA Sunday night, and begins his new gig today in Santa Monica.

I’m thrilled for him. So the lesson to learn here is simply have a great attitude, learn everything you can about the tools of the trade (lynda.com is a must)—party less, and do tutorials more, network like crazy, and do the little jobs (PA, logging footage, whatever) in the little places (Cedar Falls, Iowa) and that will pave the way for bigger opportunities.

Here’s the last big project we did together that just went online this week. It was produced for an economic development group and allowed me the opportunity to do a lot of things I talk about on the blog (produce, direct, write, shoot & edit) with the bulk of the work being done by two people as Josh also shot some of the beauty footage and was also co-editor on the 3 1/2 minute video.

Josh, thanks for all your work here at River Run, and I wish you the best in LA. And for all of you starting out in your career, the lesson to learn from Josh is to be not only both technical and creative, but (I know I’m repeated myself, but sometimes you have to shout) work hard /party less, network, network, network, be addicted to learning from Lynda.com, and have a great attitude. (Tattoos are optional.)

P.S. Another young creative that I’ve been able to watch grow over the years (and also use on a freelance basis) is creative director/filmmaker Edd Blott of Chicago. He currently has a short film called A Tales of Delight that is part of the Open Film contest in hopes of being turned into a feature. Today is the last day you can vote for his film—check it out at OpenFilm.com.

Related posts:
Why You Should Move to L.A.

Why You Shouldn’t Move to L.A.

What’s it Like to Be a Struggling Writer in L.A.

Scott W. Smith

Read Full Post »

“Oh, I’ve stolen from the best… I mean I’m a shameless thief.”
Woody Allen

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.”
Jim Jarmusch

No, I’m not going to write about writers and artists who create while drinking. But if you read a few bios of writers and artists you’ll realize that more than a few (for whatever reason) have a fondness/weakness for drugs and alcohol. But that’s another post for another day.

I want to address creative influence.

Yesterday, I did a photo shoot and was told by one friend that one of my shots looked like one of the Star Trek movie character posters and other friend said George Hurrell would be proud. Not knowing what either meant I did a quick Google search and discovered that they were both correct. See if you agree.

The photo I took of Josh McCabe is one the left and the other is of actor Eric Bana as the Star Trek character Nero. I don’t recall ever seeing the Nero photo before, but the  similarities are obvious. Black & white photo of white males, dead center  composition with eyes looking up, lit with edge lights to the left and right. (If I shaved Josh’s head and Photoshopped some tattoos from his arm to his face it would be called a dead rip off.)

Now photographer George Hurrell‘s influence I will admit to. When I moved to LA as a 21-year-old there was a place on Hollywood Blvd. that was lined with photos of old movie stars— Errol Flynn, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and the like.  Lots of black and white shots from the 30s and 40s and I’ve always been drawn to that style. Hurrell was one of the best known photographers of movie stars in that era. Here’s one of his shots of Humphrey Bogart next to the photo I took. Again, there are similarities and I understand why the connection was made.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Isn’t Lady Gaga just an updated version of Madonna and Cher? And weren’t they updated versions of Carmen Miranda?

Well now she had a big hat, my it was high
Had bananas and mangos all piled to the sky
How she could balance it, I wouldn’t dare
But they don’t dance like Carmen nowhere
—Jimmy Buffett

From a screenwriting perspective, don’t be surprised (or offended) if someone reads your script and says, “It reminds me of….” Graphic designer Milton Glaser (most famous for his I Love New York design) says that all creativity is is just connecting influences. You have your influences when you create something and the viewer/reader of your work has their influences. Lines are being crossed and connected all the time.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have both talked about boyhood TV shows and movies that influenced the concepts behind Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sometimes the connection is obvious and sometimes obscure. One of the screenplays kicking around my house is Body Heat written by Lawrence Kasden. The 1981 film has often been called a re-make of the 1944 Billy Wilder film Double Indemnity. You can find much online (here’s one) about the connection between the two, and I don’t know if Kasden ever saw Double Indemnity, but the script I have says “An original screenplay by Lawrence Kasden.”

Don’t analyze this stuff too much because it will stifle your creativity. Just keep creating, keep writing.

Scott W. Smith

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Tonight the film, The Masks We Wear, which I produced, shot, and co-directed (with Josh McCabe) for River Run Productions will be one of films shown tonight at  The Best of the City screening in Des Moines as part of The 48 Hour Film Project. But there is a little more real life drama happening in Iowa right now.

Tuesday night I was returning from a trip to Florida and my connecting flight from Minneapolis to Des Moines was delayed in taking off because of lightning. We were told that all flights were delayed from taking off until lightning had not been spotted for 15 minutes. Eventually we took off and were told the ride made take a little longer than 45 minutes as they were trying to fly around a big storm. Somewhere over Iowa around 9PM the sun was setting and casting a golden glow on the storm clouds below us.

For about 15 minutes the view from seat 16A was the one of the most glorious views I’ve ever had in all my years of flying. (I took the above picture with my iPhone with a slight enhancement using the Chase Jarvis iPhone app The Best Camera.) By the time I landed, got to my vehicle, and made a Starbucks stop to prepare for my two-hour drive to Cedar Falls it was 10 PM. I was about 15 miles north of Des Moines and about 15 minutes south of Ames on I-35 when I saw a storm in front of me that looked like the kind you see in the end of the world movies. A dark and foreboding wall with a lot of lightning.  As the rain started to fall I actually made the decision to re-route my trip and turned around, back-tracked where I just came from and headed  east on I-80.

The storm eventually caught up with me and I had to pull over twice because visibility was so limited. It made a two-hour trip take three and a half hours. It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon and this morning when I saw how bad the damage was in Ames and Des Moines. Currently I-35 (the major trucking road between Minneapolis and Des Moines) is closed, Ames is experiencing one of their worse flooding ever —leaving residents without drinking water, and tragically a 16-year old girl was killed outside Des Moines when her car was sweep away by flood waters just a mile away from I-80.

Kinda of puts things in perspective. While I was in Florida I showed a video I produced for my high school reunion. Among the fun songs and pictures I had a segment where I used Don Henley’s song The End of the Innocence (co-written by Bruce Hornsby) to recap things that had happened since we had graduated. It’s a bittersweet song that has always been one of my favorites. And the perfect song to evoke emotions for a group of people who had collectively witnessed the Challenger exploding and events surrounding 911.

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneth a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by
But “happily ever after” fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers dwell in small details
Since daddy had to fly

So tonight when I’m walking the red carpet Hollywood-style in Des Moines I’ll enjoy the moment. But I’ll also be aware of the people suffering nearby from the recent storms and my prayers go out to the friends and family of the 16-year-old who was killed.

Keep in mind while you’re writing that death and suffering are never far from your door. May you create stories that that not only entertain, but those that engage and enlighten the world we live in. (Aren’t those the kinds that last through the years?) To borrow writer Flannery O’Connor’s phrase, we need a few “prophetic poets.” They help us through the storms of life.

P.S. And if you happen to be at the screening tonight or the Des Moines Social Club afterwards stop by and say hello. I’ll be the one in a tux jacket, jeans, and black Converse high-tops.

Scott W. Smith


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